All worldviews must give answers to the problem of evil. I will begin with atheism.
Atheism is the belief that God doesn’t exist. The vast majority of their arguments are attacks on other beliefs and not a positive case based on the evidence for atheism. I don’t normally hear atheists say this is why atheism is true. The foundation of their viewpoint seems to be based on their perceived weaknesses of alternative worldviews. The issue of evil is one of their main points of attack.
Currently, we have a group of individuals who go by the name of the “New Atheists.” The primary players are Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins. They have authored books and articles viciously attacking other belief systems. What makes them “new” are their attitudes; abusive and abrasive, many times resorting to name calling rather than arguments. Christopher Hitches titled one of his chapters in his book “Religion Kills.” Richard Dawkins chose to name a chapter in his book “Childhood, Abuse, and the Escaped from Religion.” Their main point is religion is a dangerous viewpoint.
“If everything was designed,” Hitchens asks, “what are we to make of the designer who has subjected so many generations to barbarism, misery, ignorance, slavery, and early death?” The new atheists believe the problem of evil makes belief in God a fairy tale and not worthy of serious consideration.
I will begin to test the atheistic position by pointing out the problem of evil is only a problem if evil is real. When they say something is evil they are making a moral judgment. All moral judgments need a standard, a moral law and a standard needs a moral law giver. Any law above man the author needs to be transcendent or above mankind.
Let me illustrate this principle: It would be self-defeating to acknowledge shadows are real, while at the same time denying the possibility of light. Without light there are no shadows. In the same way you cannot point to a transcendent moral law, one that stands above and judges all mankind, and at the same time deny the existence of a moral law giver (in this case God).
Speaker and author Greg Koukl says this, “Note that concepts like ‘evil’ and ‘tragic’ are parasitic on moral perfections. Remember shadows only exist in the light, evil is spoiled goodness; it only exists when there is moral goodness. We already know this. Note the words we use to describe it: unrighteousness, immorality, impurity. Evil depends on the good.”
Car rust does not exist outside of a car. No car; no rust. What would you think if I said I saw a glob of tooth decay in my garage? You’d think I’m nuts; tooth decay only exists on teeth. No teeth; no tooth decay. Just like tooth decay is real and is a parasite of a healthy tooth, evil only exists if real good exists; no good, no evil. Evil is simply good gone bad and the atheist must answer where good comes from. This is a major problem!
Christopher Hitchens wants to point to misery, slavery, and death as tragic but if God doesn’t exist, then nothing evil that happens is tragic or wicked. Tragedy and wickedness only have meaning if ultimate goodness exists. If man sets the standard for good, then it can be changed, altered, or rewritten at any time and any place. This means the group in power gets to set the standard for goodness; in other words, “Might Makes Right.” Therefore, under man’s rule we can never have ultimate or absolute goodness, it will always be relative to who is in power. Ultimate goodness can only exist if the standard is above man, and the only way it can be above is to have a moral law giver.If there is no ultimate goodness there is no evil.
In the movie the Quarrel, main characters Hersh and Chiam, were boyhood friends. They become separated over a dispute over God and evil. Then the Holocaust happens and they both thought each other had perished. Finally, after the war they are reunited and once again bring up their boyhood quarrel over evil.
Hersh, now a rabbi, challenges his friend by saying,
“If there is nothing in the universe that’s higher than human beings, then what’s morality? Well, it’s a matter of opinion. I like milk; you like meat. Hitler likes to kill people; I like to save them. Who’s to say which is better? Do you begin to see the horror of this? If there is no Master of the universe, then who’s to say that Hitler did anything wrong? If there is no God, then the people that murdered your wife and kids did nothing wrong.”
Do you see where this is the natural outcome of atheism? Who’s to say what Hitler did was wrong? If you are an atheist you may say you don’t like it but you cannot say it was wrong. For the atheist morality is all a matter of opinion and the group in power gets to decide what is ultimately right or wrong for their people.
This was the actual defense for the Nazi war criminals. They said who are you to judge us? Who are you to say what is right and wrong? Who are you to say killing Jews is wrong, if it was right for us? Fortunately, the court appealed to a law above man and ruled them responsible for the death of millions of Jews. As an Atheist you should be appalled the court ruled against the Nazi’s and violated their rights by saying what they did was wrong. In your belief system there is no ultimate right or wrong.
Now what I’ve just put forward has nothing to do with whether or not an atheist can be a moral upstanding individual. An atheist can be as moral as anyone. The issue is whether or not they can make sense of their moral rules; whether they can call anything virtuous or evil.
Bottom line is the atheist worldview cannot account for evil or good. Morality is determined by “Might Makes Right” and can be changed at any time. Today rape is evil tomorrow; if society changes, it may be determined as good and healthy. Courage is good, tomorrow it is wrong. Without God it is impossible to define evil or good. The actuality of evil actually supports the existence of God. Real evil can only exist if a real God, who sets the standard, exists. NO GOD…NO EVIL. Atheism has no real answers to the problem of evil.
 Koukl, Greg, Solid Ground “Answering the New Atheists III,” Stand to Reason, Sept./Oct. 2008
 Ibid p. 7
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